It’s no secret that water can do a lot of damage in a short amount of time. Your mobile home’s roof is the first line of defense between water and your home – keeping it healthy is pretty important. In this article, we’ll cover the basics on how to find and repair leaks on mobile home roofs.
The faster you find a leak the less damage it can cause.
Even the most proactive homeowners will eventually need to find and repair leaks on mobile home roofs. The National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) recommend that all homeowners inspect their roofs at least twice each year, in the spring and in the fall.
Common Causes of Mobile Home Roof Leaks
Mobile homes have been built with three different roof shapes: flat, bowstring, and pitched. The flat and bowstring was retired in 1982 and the pitched roof has been used since.
Both flat and shingled mobile home roofs face the same nemesis.
Snow and Rain
Snow and rain cause the majority of mobile home roof leaks. Snow is especially a problem for flat roofs. While flat roofs aren’t completely flat, they don’t have much of a pitch and that allows the snow to just sit on the roof and melt slowly.
Tree branches and flying debris from a neighbor’s yard causes a lot of mobile home roof leaks. There’s not a lot you can do about flying debris but keeping the trees around your home trimmed can reduce a lot of headaches.
Poor Ventilation and Condensation
Moisture, either via condensation or leaks, are common issues in older mobile homes. In fact, they are such a big problem that HUD has written in-depth books on moisture.
Of course, we need to mention improper installation. This can occur both in the factory during original construction or on a previous mobile home roof replacement. This is another issue you can’t do a lot about other than thorough inspections at least twice a year.
In the construction material world, it’s hard to test for every issue or environment. Roof coatings are known to crack and stretch which can allow water through the membrane.
Signs of a Mobile Home Roof Leak
Ideally, there will be some kind of visual clue that signifies a leak is happening.
Whether you have a pitched or flat roof you’ll want to look for the following signs both inside and outside of your home. Here are a few things to look for when trying to locate a leak on your shingled mobile home roof:
Sagging or bowing on your ceiling, walls, gutters, or siding usually means there is an issue caused by either water or heat.
Dark spots on your mobile home’s ceiling are the most common indicator that you have a moisture issue of some sort, either a leak or condensation.
If your wallpaper or vinyl-coated wall panels starts peeling you’ll want to do a thorough investigation around the area to determine why it’s happening.
If you can see light peaking through a crack near a door, window, or wall it needs to be sealed. If light can enter, so can water.
How to Find Leaks on Mobile Home Roofing
If you do have one of the signs above, or already have buckets catching water, you will need to find and repair leaks on mobile home roofs.
Finding the leak is usually the most difficult part of any type of roof.
Since shingled roofs are most common on modern manufactured homes and flat roofs are most common on older mobile homes, we’ll divide the two types of roofs for both finding and repairing leaks.
Finding and Repairing Leaks on Mobile Home Roofs with Shingles
Leaks follow the path of least resistance which can make it difficult to locate the problem. While a leak may reveal itself in one place the actual cause of the leak could be 4 foot above it.
Once water passes the roofing, it flows along the sheathing, roof rafters, or topside of ceilings until it finds a place to drip down—inevitably onto your favorite piece of furniture.
Loose, Damaged, or Missing Shingles
Replace immediately and check for popped nails need to be hammered back in place carefully.
- Tip: Check the gutters for pieces of shingle, a sign that shingles are damaged.
To test an asphalt shingle roof’s condition, bend over a corner of one or two shingles on the sunniest side of the roof; if they break rather than flex, or if they appear gray and bloated, the material is nearing the end of its serviceable life. (Source)
Holes in Shingles
A nail or other sharp object will create a hole that water can drain into.
The boot that surrounds your plumbing ventilation pipes can become cracked or damaged.
The metal strips around the chimney, vents, and skylights and along the marriage line shouldn’t be torn or buckled.
Eaves and Roof Overhang
Leaks often occur on the edges of a mobile home, where the roof meets the exterior wall.
Winter weather brings a whole new set of issues to a homeowner. Ice can create a barrier that doesn’t allow snow and ice to slide off the roof. Learn more about ice dams here.
Vent Cracks and Leaks
Old, cracked vents may need to be replaced.
Most leaks occur due to damaged flashing, damaged or missing shingles, or the ridge cap (where the top meet) so pay special attention to these areas.
Related: The Search for Hidden Roof Leaks
Finding a Leak on a Flat Mobile Home Roof
If you have a membrane roof (often described as rubber), look for tears, cracks, blisters and seam separation. Issues around chimneys and plumbing stacks are common. Learn more about a flat roof on a mobile home here.
This video from coolflatroof.com shows the issues that flat mobile home roofing can have:
How to Fix Leaks on Mobile Home Roofs
Once the leak has been found you will need to get it repaired quickly.
If you are dealing with a sudden roof leak you will need to add some kind of barrier until you can get it repair properly.
How to Deal with a Leak Emergency
Here are the 3 steps HomeTips.com suggest you do for a roof leak emergency:
- Partially unroll or unfold enough heavy (6-mil) polyethylene sheeting to cover the leaking section of roof, from eaves to peak; add about 4 feet extra, and cut it with a utility knife. Wrap one end around a 2 by 4 that is as long as the plastic’s width; staple the plastic along the 2 by 4. Sandwich the assembly with a second 2 by 4, and nail the boards together with three or four 3-inch or 3 1/4-inch common nails.
- Place the sandwiched end of the plastic along the eaves.Stretch the sheeting from eaves to ridge, running it over the top of the ridge and down the other side a few feet.
- Sandwich the top end of the sheeting with another pair of 2 by 4s so the wind will not carry it away. Do not nail any part of this assembly to the roof.
In some cases, you will be able to repair simple mobile home roofing leaks caused by issues such as missing shingle, caulking breakdown, and flashing damage. The rest is probably best left for a roofing professional.
Replace a Shingle
Small Hole Repair
Hiring a Roofing Professional
For complex leaks on mobile home roofing, you will want to call the professionals. Remember, water is the most destructive force on earth – it’s not to be taken lightly.
If your inspection raises concerns about the condition of your roof or you feel you need an expert opinion, contact a qualified roofer in your area. Most offer free inspections and no obligation estimates for repairs or for a new roof.
If you do decide to contact a roofer, there are several steps you should take to ensure that you protect yourself from fraud and from unscrupulous contractors.
- First, make sure you contact contractors that are licensed by the state or county in which you reside. You can go online to check their status and always ask to see their license.
- Second, always get several bids for the work because that will help you determine if the cost is fair.
- Third, ask your neighbors and friends for referrals. There is nothing better than a recommendation from someone you know and trust!
- Fourth, ask for a sample of the material that your contractor will be using and make sure that when the truck shows up that the material on the truck is the same as the sample.
- Lastly, make sure you get the warranty information in writing so you protect yourself in the event you need warranty work in the future.
If you follow these simple steps, your experience involving a roofing contractor will be a pleasant and professional one.
Leaks cause a lot of damage. If a mobile home roofing leak isn’t quickly repaired it will likely damage your entire home, from roof to floor. That’s why inspections are so important – you need to catch leaks as quickly as possible.
Thank you for reading Mobile Home Living!